Summary of Sources on Women and Shariah (Islamic) Law
Shariah destroys women’s lives. Join the thousands of women in America and worldwide fighting against Shariah-justified honor killings, beatings, rapes, female genital mutilation and forced child marriages leading to life endangering early childbirth.
Resources on Honor Killings:
Research and Studies
Spring 2010 “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings” – Dr. Phyllis Chesler – Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2009 “Are Honor Killings simply Domestic Violence” – Dr. Phyllis Chesler – Middle East Quarterly
April 2012 Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference
May/June 2012 – Foreign Policy – Mona Eltahawy – “Why Do They Hate Us? The Real War on Women is in the Middle East”
April 26, 2012: The National Review “The Real War on Women”
Documentaries and videos on Honor Killings
April 4, 2012 – CBS News “Honor Killing Under Growing Scrutiny in the U.S.”
Online archive of cases, videos and analysis compiles by reporter Pamela Geller
2011 – Fox News Documentary – “A Question of Honor”
2008 – Fox News Documentary – “Honor Killing in America”
Organizations to stop honor killings and Shariah-justified violence against women
International Campaign Against Honor Killings: http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?q=node
Violence is not our culture (A project of Women Living Under Muslim Laws – WLUML): http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/home1
Women LIving Under Muslim Laws (Femmes Sous Lois Musulmanes): http://www.wluml.org/
Tahirih Justice Center (brochure for Muslim Women): http://www.tahirih.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/muslimoutreachbrochure.pdf
Legislation Against Honor Killings
Laws on Women in Contemporary Muslim Countries
In virtually all Muslim nations, women have far fewer rights than men, according to numerous reports over the last five years. Country reports reviewed by Freedom House in 2010 indicate that Middle Eastern nations especially subjugate women. They suffer discrimination as a subordinate class due to entrenched societal norms, civil legal codes based on regressive Islamic laws — as well as conservative interpretations of Shari’a (Islamic law) that religious courts impose. [i] Sharia
- Exposes Middle East women widely subject to domestic and other violence.
- Keeps women “significantly underrepresented” in politics and private industry.
- Virtually bars women from serving in judicial capacities.
- Imposes severe discrimination on women especially through laws giving men complete control in marriage, divorce, child guardianship, inheritance, and family matters. [ii]
Sharia laws in effect subjugate women — and Islamic courts maintain doctrinal inequalities founded in “religion.” Even modernized laws have done little to raise women’s inferior status.
- In May 2011, a Qatar sharia court denied custody of a 10-year old boy to his British mother. The court granted full parental rights to the family of her deceased ex-husband. [iii]
- As Afghanistan in 2010 tried reconciling with Taliban leaders, women were often threatened for trying to attend school or working, Human Rights Watch reported. A young aid worker was shot and killed in Apr. 2010, For weeks she had received threatening calls warning her to quit her job, or face the consequences. Councilor Sitara Achakzai, senior police commander Malalai Kakar, journalist Zakia Zaki, and activist Safia Amajan were all murdered and their killers not found [iv]
- Afghan men often brutally give women away via baad, a common practice of compensating for crimes. A 2009 Afghan presidential decree outlawed the Islamic tradition, which nevertheless continues, Human Rights Watch reported in March 2011. [v]
- The Afghan government increasingly has taken control of women’s shelters, with an eye to preventing wives and daughters from escaping submissive “duties” under Sharia law.[vi]
- Iran has also harassed women’s activists who seriously impede efforts to maintain the doctrinal subversion of women under Sharia laws. Officials target such women’s leaders as Sussan Tahmasebi, arresting and detaining them with out cause.[vii]
- Mohammed married a 6-year-old and consummated the union when she was nine. Therefore Sharia condones child marriages. In Yemen, fathers often force girls to wed before they reach puberty. [viii] In 2008, a 10-year old Yemeni girl demanded a divorce from her adult husband in a public case that caused an international outcry. [ix]
- Sharia requires women to have guardians. Under Yemen law, women are thus “perpetual minors.” In May 2011, journalist Tawakkol Karman reported that civilian-clad security forces routinely harass women, wielding jambiyya daggers at them. [x]
- A Saudi municipal election committee in March 2011 would not allow a women’s vote in September 2011 municipal elections, much less let women run for office. [xi]
- Women cannot legally drive in Saudi Arabia. Islamic clerics in a May 2011 Facebook campaign encouraged men to beat miscreant wives they catch driving in a June protest.[xii]
- Sharia prohibits conversion from Islam under pain of death. [xiii] Muslim men in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, however, often kidnap non-Muslim women and coerce their conversions. Sharia validates involuntary conversions, however, and prohibits such women from reverting to their original faiths. From 2005 to 2008, Egypt legally barred 50 Coptic women forced into Islam from reverting on pain of death.[xiv]
The worst abuses of women generally occur under family legal codes, giving women inferior status in marriage and families, designating fathers and husbands household heads. [xv]
- Sharia lets husbands divorce their wives at any time, for no reason, by any means. In Apr. 2009, a Saudi court approved a divorce after a husband text-messaged his wife. [xvi] Text-message divorces were banned in Singapore, and in Tajikistan clerics plan to issue a fatwa banning the practice. But the practice is legal in Malaysia and many Muslim nations. [xvii]
- To divorce, wives conversely must either meet very specific and onerous conditions or return their dowries via the practice of khula.[xviii]
- With exceptions only in Morocco and Tunisia (which could now change), women need a guardian present, or his signature, to be married, limiting free choice of lifelong partners.
- Saudi Arabia totally lacks any personal status laws, letting judges decide family matters solely by their own Sharia interpretations. Women suffer guardianship cradle to grave.[xix]
- New personal status laws often retain preexisting inequalities for women, especially those of poor women and minorities (e.g. Shia or Christians in Bahrain).[xx]
Fatwas and Religious Rulings on Women
Religious rulings, or fatwas, adversely affect women in almost all aspects of their lives, including family life, work, sexuality, genital mutilation and punishments for rape.
In a ruling at IslamOnline fatwa bank he heads, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual chief Yusuf Qaradawi in Feb. 2004 ruled on “Sharia stance on female circumcision,” a practice that he personally supports. The
- “most moderate opinion and the most likely one to be correct is in favor of practicing circumcision in the moderate Islamic way indicated in some of the Prophet’s hadiths…. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: “Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands.” The hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman’s health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. It’s noteworthy that the Prophet’s saying “do not exceed the limit” means do not totally remove the clitoris.” [xxi]
- Qaradawi follows 14th century Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, who ruled that women must be circumcised to “reduce the woman’s desire; if she is uncircumcised, she becomes lustful and tends to long more for men.” [xxii] Thanks partly to ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa, clerics still favor [xxiii] female genital mutilation, still suffered by some 97% of Egyptian women. [xxiv]
- An Oct. 2002 IslamOnline held women guilty for rape without proof of modest dress. A victim “must have shown some sort of good conduct, [proving] that what befell her must be something beyond her control. … Islam excels. … Islam gets down to the root of the problem itself … It sets noble codes of conduct that should prevail in the society; it [tells] women to maintain their modesty, as not to open the door for evils: ‘…be not too complacent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just’.” (33:32) [xxv]
- A 2010 Saudi fatwa prohibited women from intermingling with men in the workplace, thereby decreeing that they may not even work as cashiers. [xxvi]
- Women may not speak with men not close family (“mehram”) except as needed; this leads to “fitnah,” or evil deeds, held a 2001FatwaOnline rule based on 15th century teachings. [xxvii]
- In November 2004, a Muslim cleric issued a fatwa prohibiting women even from using the internet, except in the presence of men.[xxviii]
Women in the Sharia
Sayyid A’La Abul Maududi (d. 1979) was an Indo-Pakistani who worked hard at establishing a theocracy in Pakistan through the Jamaat-i-Islami. He is highly respected traditional commentator who says that this sura, itself titled “Women,” was revealed at different times, but still in the timeframe of AD 625 to 626. Muhammad is establishing his Muslim community in Medina in the face of opposition and adverse circumstances, though Islam manages to overcome them. Sura 4, verse 34 of the Qu’ran fits into the framework of vv. 1-35, which sees the specific establishment of rules for the family. For instance, in the aftermath of the Battle of Uhud in 625, in which the Muslims lost a lot of men, Muhammad says that orphans should be given their property and not to replace their good things with bad, which means to deal fairly and wisely with their assets (vv. 1-6). Also, he discusses the rules for inheriting property, such as one son having the share equal to two daughters or that a husband should inherent half of his wife’s property, unless they have children, in which case he inherits one-fourth (vv. 11-14). Then, if women or men in a segment of Muslim society commit lewd acts, they should be punished, unless they repent (vv. 15-18). Next, a large section deals with marriage rules, like not marrying mothers, daughters, sisters and so on (vv. 19-28). Finally, he lays down rules against greed and murder, and again returns to a law of inheritance (vv. 29-33).
Thus, it is in this family environment that the targeted v. 34 is located, and Muhammad lays out yet one more rule in v. 34 – how to deal with an unruly or rebellious wife (The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, pp. 297-303).[xxix]
MEMRI is the best source for visual materials on women under Shariah (Islamic law): Here are a several from dozens posted at the MEMRI TV website, produced through searching for “women’s rights.” Videos generally appear with subtitles; some videos also have transcripts:
#661 – Kuwaiti MP: Preventing Women from Voting Reflects the Will of the Public
Dubai – April 29, 2005 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/79/661.htm
#2037 – Former Hizbullah Member Rami ‘Aleiq: We Used to Have Sex with Syrian Prostitutes after Signing Temporary Marriage Contracts with Them
Rotana Music (Saudi Arabia) – August 25, 2008 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/79/2037.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2037.htm)
#2107 – Child Marriage in Yemen: Interviews with Two Girl-Brides Who Have Appealed to the Court Seeking Divorce; BBC Arabic (The UK) – March 24/April 1, 2009 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/79/2107.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2107.htm)
#2262 – Egyptian Cleric Masoud Anwar Justifies Polygamy: Some Women’s Period Lasts for 15 Days, Some Women Grow Old and Abstain from Sex
Al-Rahma TV (Egypt) – March 13, 2009 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/79/2262.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2262.htm)
#2545 – Saudi Expert on Family Affairs Ghazi Al-Shimari on Underage Marriage in Saudi Arabia: A Girl of Six or Seven Is Too Young to Be Married, But a 12-Year-Old Girl May Be Ready; Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia) – May 20, 2010; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/79/2545.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2545.htm)
#2578 – Egyptian Cleric Ramadhan Labib: Polygamy for the Sake of Satisfying One’s Sexual Appetite Is Allowed Al-Faraeen TV (Egypt) – July 23, 2010 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2578.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2578.htm)
#2600 – Egyptian Cleric Sa’d Arafat: Islam Permits Wife Beating Only When She Refuses to Have Sex with Her Husband; Al-Rahma TV (Egypt) – February 4, 2010 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2600.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2600.htm)
#2612 – Egyptian Psychotherapist Dr. Radhwa Farghali: Women in Arab Society Are Treated as Minors; Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) – Aug. 5, 2010 http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2612.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2612.htm)
#2705 – Egyptian cleric Yousuf Al-Badri states There Is No Such Thing As Marital Rape, BBC Arabic TV, October 16, 2010, http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2705.htm; http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2705.htm
#2720 – Iranian TV Report on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death by Stoning, Including an Interview with Her
Press TV (Iran) – Dec. 10, 2010; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2720.htm (http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2720.htm)
#2722 – Footage of Woman Receiving Lashing at Khartoum Police Station; Khartoum Governor Justifies Punishment. (Extremely Graphic Images); Internet, – Dec. 12, 2010; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2722.htm
Women in the Quran and Hadith
The following passages are taken from the Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall translation of the Qur’an[xxx]:
- “Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah inviteth unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expoundeth His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember.” (Qur’an 2:221)
- “They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness.” (Qur’an 2:222)
- “Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire a reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Qur’an 2:228)
- “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.” (Qur’an 4:3)
- “As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way (through new legislation). And as for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is ever relenting, Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:15-16)
- “Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. And to each of his parents a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a son; and if he have no son and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother appertaineth the third; and if he have brethren, then to his mother appertaineth the sixth, after any legacy he may have bequeathed, or debt (hath been paid). Your parents and your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injunction from Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise. ” (Quran 4:11)
The following relevant passages are found in the Hadith[xxxi]:
- Bukhari (6:301) – “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’”
- Bukhari (6:301) continued - “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.’” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.
- Bukhari (2:28) – Women comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants. This is important because the only women in heaven ever mentioned by Muhammad are the virgins who serve the sexual desires of men. (A weak Hadith, Kanz al-`ummal, 22:10, even suggests that 99% of women go to Hell).
- Bukhari (62:81) – “The Prophet said: “’The stipulations most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women’s) private parts (i.e. the stipulations of the marriage contract).’” In other words, the most important thing that a woman brings to a marriage is between her legs.
- Bukhari (62:58) – A woman presents herself in marriage to Muhammad, but he does not find her attractive, so he “donates” her on the spot to another man.
- Muslim (4:1039) – “A’isha said [to Muhammad]: ‘You have made us equal to the dogs and the asses’”
- Abu Dawud (2:704) – “…the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone’s throw.”
- Abu Dawud (2155)- Women are compared to slaves and camels with regard to the “evil” in them.
- Ishaq 593 - “As for Ali, he said, ‘Women are plentiful, and you can easily change one for another.’” Ali was raised as a son by Muhammad. He was also the 4th caliph. This comment was made in Muhammad’s presence without a word of rebuke from him.
- Ishaq 593 - “From the captives of Hunayn, Allah’s Messenger gave [his son-in-law] Ali a slave girl called Baytab and he gave [future Caliph] Uthman a slave girl called Zaynab and [future Caliph] Umar another.” – Even in this world, Muhammad treated women like party favors, handing out slave girls to his cronies for sex.
- Tabari VIII:117 – The fate of more captured farm wives, whom the Muslims distributed amongst themselves as sex slaves: “Dihyah had asked the Messenger for Safiyah when the Prophet chose her for himself… the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.”
- Tabari IX:137 – “Allah granted Rayhana of the Qurayza to Muhammad as booty.”
- Ishaq 969 – “Men were to lay injunctions on women lightly, for they were prisoners of men and had no control over their persons.” – This same text also justifies beating women for flirting.
- Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754 – “Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.
[xii] http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/05/25/saudi-facebook-campaign-calls-men-beat-women-drivers/; http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-page-calls-on-men-to-beat-women-drivers-2011-05; http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article422616.ece
[xxv] http://web.archive.org/web/20021018130848/http://www.islamonline.net/askaboutislam/display.asp?hquestionID=2681; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1466715/For-her-to-be-absolved-from-guilt-a-raped-woman-must-have-shown-good-conduct.html;